Cuddles needs cuddles

An adorable kitten named Cuddles needs your help. 

Only a month old when his leg was broken, Cuddles never received veterinary care. The brave kitten’s leg now curls under, causing him to walk with a limp and leading to sores all over the limb.

On a cold winter-like day, a Good Samaritan heard a tiny mew at her door.

“We’re glad she found him when she did! The poor guy was sitting at the door, cold and hungry and she couldn’t leave him outside,” said BC SPCA Williams Lake branch manager Liz Dighton.

“When she saw he was also injured, she rushed him immediately into our care so he could get the veterinary and medical care he so desperately needs.”

Cuddles will need to have his leg amputated so he can live out the rest of his nine lives active and pain-free. The medical costs are expected to exceed $1,800. 

“Cuddles sure lives up to his name. As soon as you look at him, he starts purring – and he just loves his cuddles,” Dighton said. “He’s a total love bug and very friendly and outgoing. We just want this sweet guy to have a second chance at a better life in a loving, forever home.”

Cuddles will be available for adoption after his surgery and recovery. To help with the costs, donate here.


Tree comes crashing down

An old tree in Vancouver's West End came crashing down on Thursday. 

The decades-old Catalpa tipped over on Burnaby Street near Nicola Street, causing damage to the sidewalk and destroying a vehicle.

"My alarm got triggered and I thought maybe somebody bumped into my vehicle or something like that and I got the surprise that a tree fell on it," Sean Wormsbecker, told CTV. 

The park board believes the tree is between 60 and 80 years-old and was said to be healthy. 

Crews are still cleaning up the debris which will take up to two days.

-With files from CTV Vancouver 

Heavy rain warning at coast

A rainfall warning has been posted for Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and Greater Victoria, and up to 70 millimetres are expected.

Environment Canada says the storm will unleash strong winds in Victoria and the southern Gulf Islands, with gusts from 70 to 90 kilometres.

It says strong winds will also pick up through Puget Sound, the Haro Strait and Georgia Strait on Saturday.

The storm is the latest in a series that has lashed the southern coast.

Environment Canada warns residents that flooding is possible in low-lying areas.


Cops break up drug ring

Northern B.C. gang cops have broken up what they say is a drug trafficking ring in Prince George.

The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit raided two properties on the 1400 block of Nation Cres. on Oct. 9 following an investigation.

Inside the first home, officers arrested a man and woman and seized a sawed off shotgun.

Another couple were arrested in a vehicle parked in the driveway of the home, where officers seized one set of brass knuckles.

A second set of brass knuckles was seized when another male, arriving during the search of the home, was arrested after a small amount of cocaine fell out of his wallet.                

“Weapons and drugs were taken off the streets, disrupting the criminal activity conducted by those individuals that possess the highest risk to public safety,” said Sgt. Brenda Winpenny of the CFSEU- BC. “This significant impact was made possible as a result of the collaboration and coordination between CFSEU-BC and our partner agency, Prince George RCMP.”

Charges are currently pending.

Husband admits to murder

A British Columbia man whose wife was struck by a vehicle and killed nearly eight years ago has pleaded guilty to his part in her murder.

Police say 53-year-old Iqbal Gill has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder.

Kulwinder Gill was 42 when she died in April 2009, and police say the driver failed to remain at the scene on a rural road in Abbotsford.

Police say in a news release that four years later, officers determined foul play was involved and the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team was called to lead the investigation.

Four men, including Gill, were arrested, and he is expected to be sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court on Nov. 1.

The investigation team's Cpl. Meghan Foster says Gurpreet Atwal's trial is scheduled to begin in May and the others are serving sentences for their roles in the woman's murder.

Dumpster fire, body found

Police are investigating the discovery of a woman's body at the scene of a dumpster fire in Langley.

Firefighters found the body after dousing the fire just before 6 a.m., along the Langley Bypass.

It's not yet known how the woman died or how the fire started.

The victim's identity has yet to be confirmed.

– with files from CTV Vancouver

City shuts down to mourn

The City of Fernie shut down its operations Friday to give staff time to grieve the deaths of co-workers following an ammonia leak at the local ice rink.

The BC Coroners Service said the men who died were Wayne Hornquist, 59, and Lloyd Smith, 52, both of Fernie; and Jason Podloski, 46, of Turner Valley, Alta.

The city has said two of the men worked for the municipality. A spokesman for the parent company of refrigeration business CIMCO confirmed the third man worked for their Calgary branch.

B.C. Emergency Health Services said Smith was a part-time paramedic who was off-duty and working at his other job with the municipality when he died Tuesday.

Smith was also a senior instructor with the Alberta Association of Recreation Facility Personnel and its incoming board president, executive director Stuart Ray said Friday.

Ray called his friend of 10 years a "gentle soul" who was generous with his time.

"He's a very intellectual individual. He's very quiet and it takes a long time to get to know the man," Ray said.

"But once you do, you find out that he's a bit of a joker. He always has a kind word to say."

Ray said Smith was adventurous and flew planes as a hobby.

Smith leaves behind a 12-year-old son, Ray said.

He was from High River, Alta., and lived in nearby Okotoks before taking the job three hours away in Fernie.

Former prime minister Stephen Harper's wife, Laureen, tweeted Thursday night that Smith was a childhood friend who taught her how to drive a Zamboni at a rink in High River.

Health Minister Adrian Dix issued a statement saying Smith started his career as a B.C. paramedic in 1996 and was a friend and mentor to many.

"As we wait for more information about this heartbreaking event to be gathered by the BC Coroners Service, WorkSafeBC, Technical Safety BC and the RCMP, we encourage people to take care of themselves and each other, and thank them for the work that they do for patients and communities," Dix said.

Miracle she wasn't crushed

Motorists are wondering why a section of Highway 1 wasn't closed when rocks rained down from the cliffside.

Several vehicles were damaged earlier this week near Three Valley Gap when they were caught in a rock slide.

Shannon Smith is lucky to be alive after her 2018 Chevy Equinox, which she had purchased two hours prior, was struck by a large boulder, destroying the vehicle.

“I was following my husband who was directly in front of me, when a wall of large rocks and debris came out of nowhere, striking the vehicle. All I could think was to pull the steering wheel to the right so I didn't go in to the (lake). The next thing I remember is hearing my husband calling my name and the smell of the airbags. And then my husband's face in the passenger window,” said Smith, who had to be freed from the wreckage using the jaws of life.

“He figures it was a rock the size of the fireplace in your living room. It hit the front of my car and the pavement at the same time and I pretty much went through it. I don't understand why the highway was open when they had a loader there clearing debris.”

Smith, who lives in Revelstoke, said she is not casting blame on anyone, but does have some questions for Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, as does Sam Lachman.

The Coldstream resident also had his vehicle damaged before Smith had her vehicle totalled.

“There were three vehicles westbound and one eastbound that encountered the rocks,” said the Coldstream resident. “It took out both front tires and I have damage all along one side where the rocks hit it. There was a car behind us that had the windshield smashed. It really should have been closed, if they can't maintain the hill, they should stop the traffic.”

Castanet contacted the MoTI who said “very heavy rain and strong winds likely contributed to the rock fall event. Rock scaling has taken place this year along the Three Valley Bluffs.”

An email from Danielle Pope, media relations with the MOTI said, “Every effort is made to protect the safety of the travelling public; it is our top priority.

“Rock fall is a natural event, but rock slope stabilization projects are prioritized and carried out to reduce potential rock fall hazards.

“The stabilization work typically involves activities such as rock scaling, slope meshing and rock blasting.

“Our maintenance contractor patrols the highway regularly. It had a loader stationed at Three Valley Gap (Tuesday) that enabled the rocks to be removed quickly.

“When a rock slide occurs, a geotechnical engineer assesses the site for the risk of further rock fall. Once the geotechnical assessment determines that it is safe, the maintenance contractor clears the road.”

17 years for murder of teen

A British Columbia man has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 17 years after pleading guilty to second-degree murder.

Raymond Caissie was sentenced Friday in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster for the September 2014 slaying of 17-year-old Serena Vermeersch.

Her body was found along railway tracks in Surrey, B.C., a day after she was reported missing.

Caissie had been released from prison just a year earlier.

He had served his entire 22 year sentence for a violent 1991 sexual assault and kidnapping and parole documents said board members believed he was likely to commit another offence causing death or serious harm.

Documents written in 2010 show Caissie told prison officials he feared he would commit further violence after his release, but he later denied making those statements.

Fernie victims identified

The BC Coroners Service has confirmed the identities of three men who died after a workplace incident at Fernie Memorial Arena on Tuesday.

They were Wayne Allan Hornquist, 59, and Lloyd Stewart Smith, 52, both of Fernie; and Jason Donovan Podloski, 46, of Turner Valley, Alta.

Smith, an off-duty part-time paramedic, was working "at his other job with the City of Fernie when he died," BC Emergency Health Services said in a statement.

The agency says Smith worked in the East Kootenay area for more than 15 years.

On Thursday, Norm McInnis, chief administrative officer with the City of Fernie, said an alarm went off at the arena about 4 a.m. Tuesday, prompting the municipality to shut down the rink and call in a specialist for emergency maintenance.

Shortly before 1 p.m., emergency crews responded to a 911 call and arrived to find someone providing CPR to a person outside the building.

"We all have questions as to what happened," McInnis told reporters. "Something went terribly wrong."

Fire Chief Ted Ruiter said response crews originally entered the facility Tuesday afternoon and discovered two bodies, but left for safety reasons after performing an interior search.

Emergency responders were able to re-enter the building and recover the bodies Wednesday.

An evacuation order will remain in place until at least today while crews investigate whether there is any lingering danger, he said. A statement from the city on Thursday said about 95 displaced residents are being put up in a hotel.

"Getting the evacuated residents home remains our top priority, but we need to make sure that we get them home safely," Ruiter said.

Two of the men who died were city employees. McInnis said the municipality will shut down its operations Friday to give staff time to grieve.

A spokesman for the parent company of refrigeration business CIMCO confirmed the third victim worked for its Calgary branch.

The Coroners Service and WorkSafe BC continue to investigate the incident.

Singing pig's an SPCA hit

A pig with personality is searching for a forever farm after being seized during a cruelty investigation.

The B.C. Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says Lyle, a two-year-old black pig, was fearful and didn't want to be touched when he was taken into care in Metro Vancouver just over a year ago.

The society's farm animal care supervisor Leiki Salumets says the pudgy porker has slowly transformed into a social and very vocal barnyard character, who loves belly rubs and foot massages.

Volunteers at the barn have also noticed that Lyle's grunts and squeals become almost melodic when his favourite caregiver is nearby, leading to speculation that he may be more baritone than boar.

Salumets says she's not sure if Lyle is "opera-ready," but is pleased that he is "more social and vocalizing so much."

The society says in a news release that it is hopeful a farm with a place for a musical pig can be found.

"Lyle is a sweet and gentle fellow just looking for someone to fall in love with him and offer him a home where he will be doted on," Salumets says in the release. "He's an awesome pig."

Understanding racist legacy

The University of British Columbia is on a mission to train future doctors, dentists and other health-care providers to treat Indigenous patients by learning about the pain inflicted by past Canadian policies.

First-year students in midwifery, occupational therapy, pharmacy, physical therapy, genetic counselling, social work, dental hygiene and dietetics are required to take an online course and two workshops to help them better serve Aboriginal people. In 2018, students in audiology and speech and language pathology will also participate.

Jason Min, who teaches in the university's faculty of pharmaceutical sciences and has worked with the Lil'wat Nation, facilitated a workshop Thursday for students in various programs.

"I think I graduated feeling confident in my knowledge of medications and how they worked. I didn't know that was not enough to provide good care," he said.

He said training health-care students in their first year to reflect on stereotypes and Canada's colonial legacy will allow them to become better clinicians and see every patient as an individual.

First-year medical student Dakota Peacock said health-care professionals have a lot to learn about "cultural humility" involving Indigenous populations subjected to systemic racism that caused them to distrust those treating them.

"Having the humility that we don't know everything about this person in front of us means we cannot make assumptions and we should not be stereotyping them," said Peacock, who aims to become a neurologist.

One professor's story has stuck with him, and it's about an Indigenous man who arrived at an emergency room with slurred speech and "disorderly" movements. Staff assumed he was drunk and didn't treat him. He died of a brain injury.

"I'm hoping to learn what we as health-care professionals can do to mend the divide between medical professionals and Indigenous Peoples, a divide that has been created as a result of the residential school system," said Peacock.

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